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Following gold discovery on the Reed farm in Cabarrus County in 1799, a genuine gold rush ensued in North Carolina by 1825. Prior to 1828 all gold sent to the United States Mint was from North Carolina. It was difficult and expensive for miners to take their gold to the Philadelphia Mint, and most of the nation’s gold was coming from the Southern states. Consequently, in 1830, Southerners began lobbying for branch mints to be placed in their region. Branch Mint legislation became law in 1835, authorizing branches in Charlotte; Dahlonega, Georgia; and New Orleans. Architect William Strickland, of Philadelphia, designed the building that opened in December 1837. The Charlotte Mint operated until North Carolina seceded from the Union in 1861. During its operation it coined about five million dollars in half eagles ($5), quarter eagles ($2.50), and gold dollars.
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In 1933, when the Mint building was being threatened by post office expansion, it was purchased by a group of citizens led by Mary Myers Dwelle. The building was sketched by Charlotte architect Martin C. Boyer and then was moved piece by piece from its location on West Trade Street (between Mint and Graham Streets) to its present location between Eastover and Randolph Roads, on land donated by E. C. Griffith Sr. It was reconstructed during 1934 to 1936 using labor supplied by the Federal Emergency Relief Administration. The former U.S. Mint building became the home to North Carolina’s first public art museum, the Mint Museum of Art. The museum was expanded in 1968 and 1985. The latter expansion altered the entrance to the museum and changed its address to Randolph Road, which had previously been at the rear of the property.
Richard F. Knapp and Robert M. Topkins, eds., Gold in History, Geology, and Culture (2001)
Richard F. Knapp and Brent D. Glass, Gold Mining in North Carolina (1999)
Clair M. Birdsall, The United States Branch Mint at Charlotte, North Carolina: Its History and Coinage (1988)
Mint Museum of Art website: http://www.mintmuseum.org/